Is A Bachelor's Degree Worth It?

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We delve into the true value of a bachelor's degree - and what it could be worth in terms of potential salary, employment opportunities, and more.

By University.com Staff
Last updated on 8/05/2014

Think a bachelor's degree isn't worth it? You might want to think again.

A bachelor's degree could be worth quite a bit when you add it all up - especially in an uncertain economy.

  • Higher Lifetime Earning Potential. According to a Community Survey Brief issued by the U.S. Census in October, 2012, the difference in lifetime earnings between someone with just a high school diploma and someone with a college degree is about one million dollars.
  • Lower Risk of Unemployment. Data from the U.S. Department of Labor shows that the unemployment rate among bachelor's degree holders (4.0 percent in June 2013) is almost half that of those with just a high school diploma (7.5 percent).
  • Competitiveness. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the number of bachelor's degrees awarded was up more than 39 percent from the academic years 2001-2002 to 2011-2012.
  • More Career Options. The bachelor's degree is often a requirement for many entry-level and advanced positions. Want to pursue teaching or accounting? You'll need a bachelor's degree as well as any relevant certifications, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

If you're ready to pursue your bachelor's degree, here are some careers to think about - and how a bachelor's degree could help.

Career #1 - Accountant

Accountants may analyze financial statements, prepare tax returns, and manage costs and revenues, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Accountants could work for a variety of organizations, including finance, insurance, and manufacturing companies, the Department of Labor says.

Related Education: Accounting positions typically require a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field, according to the Department.

Median Salary: $65,080 per year*

Bonus: Accounting is a growing field - the Department reports that employment is expected to grow 13 percent from 2012 to 2022.

Click to Find the Right Accounting Program.

Career #2 - Graphic Designer

Newspapers, magazines, web sites - the visuals are all laid out by a graphic designer, says the U.S. Department of Labor.

Related Education: A bachelor's degree in graphic design or a related field is usually required for this position, the Department of Labor tells us.

Median Salary: $44,830 per year*

Bonus: Graphic design jobs are expected to grow by 7 percent from 2012 to 2022, according to the Department.

Click to Find the Right Graphic Design Program.

Career #3 - Public Relations Specialist

Presenting a positive image to the public and the media is important in the modern world. The U.S. Department of Labor tells us that PR specialists are tasked with developing and maintaining favorable public images for the organization they are representing. This may include writing press releases, responding to the media, drafting speeches, and helping their client with public communication.

Related Education: A bachelor's degree in business, English, public relations, journalism, or communications is the typical entry-level requirement for this field, says the Department of Labor.

Median Salary: $54,940 per year*

Bonus: Jobs for PR specialists may grow 12 percent from 2012 to 2022, according to the Department.

Click to Find the Right Communications Program.

Career #4 – Elementary School Teacher

Almost everyone should recall their most influential teacher. The U.S. Department of Labor explains that as an elementary school teacher, you could prepare students for the future by teaching basic subjects and skills.

Related Education: Public elementary school teachers must have at least a bachelor's degree in elementary education. To teach in public schools, you also need a license from your state, says the Department of Labor.

Median Salary: $53,390 per year*

Bonus: In addition to the impact you could have on your students' lives, jobs for elementary school teachers are expected to grow by 12 percent from 2012 to 2022, according to the Department.

Click to Find the Right Education Program.

Career #5 - Software Developer

Software developers are the brains behind those computer programs we use every day, says the U.S. Department of Labor.

Relevant Education: Typically, software developers have a bachelor's degree in software engineering, computer science, or a related field, the Department of Labor explains.

Median Salary: Software developers for systems software: $101,410 per year, software developers for applications: $92,660 per year.*

Bonus: This is a fast-growing career. The Department projects a 22 percent growth in jobs from 2012 to 2022.

Click to Find the Right Programming Program.

Career #6 - Market Research Analyst

Learning about public opinion is an exciting way to help businesses reach their customers. Market research analysts study market conditions to understand potential sales of goods and services, figuring out what people want, who wants what, and what they will pay, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Relevant Education: Entry-level positions usually need a bachelor's degree, typically in market research or a related field, although some have backgrounds in communications, social sciences, business administration, computer science, statistics, or math, according to the Department of Labor.

Median Salary: $60,800 per year*

Bonus: This is another fast-growing career. The Department projects a 32 percent growth in demand from 2012 to 2022.

Click to Find the Right Marketing Program.

*All salary information from the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Employment and Wages data, May 2013.

Kate Hornsby also contributed to this article by updating the information on 08/05/2014

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